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INTRODUCTORY   ESSAY.                                    15
It should not be forgotten, that the relative importance of
physiology is very different in the animal and vegetable king-
doms. In, the former, structure and function operate so di-
rectly upon one another, that the great groups are, to a certain
extent, defined by well-marked external characters, which arc
at dace recognizable by the student, and arc familiar, or at
leasf intelligible, to those oven who have paid no attention
to natural history. . In the vegetable kingdom this is by no
means the case: the processes of assimilation and secretion
present but little of that complication which renders the study
of animal physiology so important; they are, on the contrary,
uniform almost throughout ;ts whole extent, and moreover so
simple in their modus oper'twlt, that this very simplicity pre-
vents their being rightly understood. , In consequence, even
the two great classes of Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons are
not distinguishable without considerable practice and study;
and were we dependent upon actual inspection of the organs
whence the essential characters of these .two groups are drawn,
for the means of recognizing them, Systematic Botany,would
be an impracticable study.
Herein lies onogrcat obstacle which meets the beginner on
the very threshold/of his botanical studies : he sees the threat
divisions of the animal kingdom to be recognizable by iriore
inspection, an^l that familiar characters are also natural, and
'aiilablc for purposes of classification: the very names of the
groups convey definite information, and to a great extent £ivc
exact ideas. UirdV fishes, reptiles, etc. arc all as natural as
they are popular 'uivisions; but what have we in the vegetable
kingdom to guide the student, through the two hundred and
fifty natural orders of flowering-plants? As with a new lan-
guage, he must begin from the very beginning, and also avail
himself of artificial means to procure as much superficial
knowledge of structure and affinity as shall enable him to-see
that there is a way through the maze. Hence the obvious
necessity of an artificial system of some sort to the beginner,
has, at tho same time, to master a terminology, which,